‘Non-strategic locations bring down use of flyovers’

A number of flyovers that were constructed in Chennai to ease traffic woes lack the patronage of commuters, who still opt for routes prone to congestion.
Fact File
Fact File

Chennai

For commuters wondering why Chennai succumbs to traffic congestion almost on a daily basis, despite the presence of flyovers and grade separators, the answers may boil down to a question of patronage. Quite a few flyovers witness a low volume of vehicles plying on them, resulting in traffic snarls just like in the past, say activists. 
Commuters have cited longer travel times and non-strategic locations of these flyovers as the biggest drawback when it comes to using them. According to State Highway and Metro Wing officials, the city has over 20 flyovers and four grade separators. Authorities maintain that detailed planning went into the construction of such flyovers. 
Around 45 lakh vehicles ply in the city on a daily basis while close to one lakh vehicles are registered in RTO offices every year. The officials claim that traffic snags have reduced to a considerable extent in the city. Activists however refute the assurance stating that flyovers located in Royapettah, Tirumangalam, South Usman Road and some locations receive a very low volume of motorists. 
M G Devasagayam, a retired civil servant and social activist, wondered why the authorities concerned hastily embarked upon constructing flyovers instead of widening roads. “As far as I know, only a couple of flyovers like Gemini serve their purpose in reducing traffic congestions. Constructing more number of flyovers spending crores of rupees will only add to snags,” he said. He remarks that even foreign countries like Japan have started demolishing flyovers and widening roads for easing out traffic. Consumer groups have also voiced their concern on the traffic situation that seems to have no easy answers. 
S Mohanram, president, Consumer Protection Council, Tirunindravur says, “It is a plain fact that some flyovers do not attract vehicles. The police and other stakeholders including state transportation department should conduct a thorough study across the city to find out points where traffic congestion takes place largely and divert the vehicles through flyovers, which sometime remain empty.” He added that some flyovers were built after poor planning and are unable to usher vehicles in large numbers. Another issue is that of encroachment around the flyovers. 
“If a new flyover is constructed and opened for traffic, many small vendors occupy the spaces in the surroundings for business. Itinerant vendors often set shop in large numbers below the girders of the flyover,” said T Rajagopal, a resident of T Nagar, an area prone to congestion. When DTNext contacted a senior engineer from State Highways (Metro Wing) department, he claimed that all the flyovers played important role in reducing congestion and that flyovers are built only after a proper study.

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